Teaching Our Kids to Live Generously

written by Pamela Thompson on January 30, 2014 in My Year of Living Generously with 6 comments

teaching generosity

Today at work I hosted a group of middle school students who celebrated Catholic Schools Week by giving back to the community. They whipped through the project I had planned for them, So I took a break and told them about the non-profit that I fund raise for, the population we serve, and some of their stories.

Since my non-profits serves those with cystic fibrosis, we serve a predominantly young population. Teens are especially great champions for cystic fibrosis, because it is likely that they know someone who is affected by this genetic disease. I hope that these young people could sense just how much our association does for people with CF, and how very important our mission is.

Now, our staff *could* have completed the tasks that these kids did. (It would have taken longer, though). The kids *could* have just spent two more hours in math or English class.

But the point of charity, of philanthropy, of generosity, is to step out beyond the ordinary in order to be extraordinary.

Generous children grow up to be generous adults. Generous children and generous adults change the world.

I’ve told you all about my friend Bridger before. Bridger is 9 years old. For three years now he has given up Christmas presents to raise money for Charity: Water. (you can catch a glimpse of him in this video)

Kids like Bridger make a big difference in our world.

How can we teach kids to live generously?

The answer is obvious, if not a little uncomfortable. Kids model what they see.

Is there a cause that is close to your heart? Do you talk about it as a family? Do you actively participate in fundraisers, and attend awareness events for your cause of choice?

In past generations, talking about money was taboo. There have been some very generous people in our past, but they are shrouded in a veil of anonymity.

While this is admirable, anonymity keeps generosity stagnant. Generosity is much more effective when it is contagious.

If our children see us actively supporting causes, they will want to do the same. . .either supporting the causes that you do, or, even better, choosing their own!

Generosity is the antidote for childhood selfishness.

Observe a very young child. Note the natural generosity. A baby is more than happy to share a pacifier, bottle, slimy toy or whatever is in his hands (provided his needs have been met).

This is the generosity that we should encourage. I always received such gifts with an enthusiastic “Thank you!”

When I caught my older children being generous with their time or treasures, I would pause, and let them know that what they did was honorable and acknowledged that it was also probably difficult.

I’ve taught the children that we serve others first, even if it means that we might run out of ice cream before we get to our own bowl.

These are all simple lessons in philanthropy.

I encourage you to find a group that you can support as a family with your time and treasures. Make giving into family time.

Giving of your time is time never wasted.

Chime in! How have you modeled generosity for your children? What lessons have you learned along the way? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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